Why Is My Rabbit Biting Me All Of A Sudden: 8 reasons (with proven solution)

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why is my rabbit biting me all of a sudden

Last Updated on August 2, 2021 by Rei

There are a lot of things why your rabbit would bite its owners all of a sudden. It could be hormonal, injuries, stress, or a defense mechanism.

As rabbit owners, we have to be aware of what is causing this behavior in order to properly respond and hopefully avoid this in the future.

In this article, I would discuss the 8 different reasons why your rabbit would bite its owners all of a sudden. I would also discuss what you can do to correct and prevent this behavior.

So without further ado, lets get started:

Your rabbit is in pain

rabbit in pain

Rabbits that are injured or in pain would often unintentionally bite their owners if touched. If you suspect that your rabbit is injured or in pain, immediately bring them to a veterinarian for a professional opinion.

Moreover, aggression is not the only symptom that a rabbit is in pain. Usually, rabbits have multiple symptoms like:

  • Appetite change
  • Rapid breathing
  • Loud tooth grinding
  • Low energy
  • High pitched noise

You can also look for physical symptoms of injuries by examining your rabbit’s fur and body. Just be careful that you handle them gently to avoid injuring them further or them biting you.

Here are the most common signs of physical injuries you can look for:

  • Check your rabbit’s legs for lameness or limping
  • Look for open wounds
  • Check your rabbit’s ear for mites or infections
  • Check your rabbit’s abdomen for any abnormalities
  • Notice where your rabbit is focusing when licking or scratching. There could be a problem in that area.

Finally, it’s important that you bring your rabbit for a regular checkup in order to maintain its health and because a veterinarian has a better eye for noticing injuries.

Your rabbit is just defending themselves

aggresive rabbit

Another reason why your rabbit is biting you all of a sudden is self-defense. This often happens to new rabbit owners if their rabbit doesn’t trust them yet.

There are a lot of reasons why a rabbit would want to defend themselves like defending their territory, food, or kits. If this is the case then the only thing you can do is to give them some space and wait for them to come to you.

Finally, it could also be that you startled your rabbit and they have bitten you as a natural reaction from their instinct kicking in.

In any case, when a rabbit bites you from defending themselves try to forgive them because it’s just their instinct and it doesn’t mean that they hate you.

Your rabbit is protecting its food

rabbit protecting its food

Rabbits can also be aggressive when it comes to food. This behavior usually happens to rabbits that are underfed or rabbits natural instinct to protects their food.

Since rabbits in the wild are constantly in competition with each other for food because foods in the wild are more scarce. As a result, this behavior is often seen even on domesticated well-fed rabbits.

You can try correcting this behavior by doing the following:

  • Associate your hand as a “food source” and should not be bitten. You can do this by manually giving your rabbit treats or pellets by hand.
  • Make sure that your rabbit has a constant supply of hay to prevent food aggression due to hunger.
  • Disperse their food in their cage so that they won’t be territorial to their food bowl.

Your rabbit wants to assert dominance

angry rabbit

Sexually mature rabbits or rabbits that are more than 6 months old would often shift to more aggressive behavior if unneutered. The reason for this behavior is because at this stage the rabbit’s hormone levels are high.

The solution for this is to get your rabbits neutered to reduce or even remove this aggressive behavior. Rabbits that are 4 months old can already be neutered so talk to your veterinarian if they offer to neuter rabbits because most vets don’t.

Moreover, female rabbits are more prone to being aggressive when they enter the puberty stage.

Your rabbit is protecting its territory or kits

rabbit protecting kits

Pregnant or lactating rabbits are often aggressive due to their instinct to protect their kits. Likewise, rabbits that are hormonal due to being pregnant can also cause these aggressive biting behavior.

Be careful when your rabbit is pregnant or already nursing her kits. The best course of action during this time is to just leave your rabbit alone and respect their space.

Finally, rabbits that are in the nest-building stage where they build a nest for their kits can also be territorial and would often bite their owners even if they already bonded.

The best thing to do is let your rabbit do what they want.

Your rabbit has been abused or neglected in the past

scared rabbit

Another possible reason why your rabbit is aggressive and biting is past neglect or abuse. This is more common to rabbits that are adopted because rabbits that are turned over are often those that are neglected.

You should inquire about the rabbit’s past if your planning on adopting one so that you can adjust accordingly to possible unwanted behaviors you might encounter.

If your rabbit is neglected and abused in the past you can do the following:

  1. Let your rabbit be familiar with your place.
  2. Leave them alone unless they come to you.
  3. Prove enough food, water, and space.
  4. Give your rabbit treats using your hand. Make sure that the treats are long enough so your rabbit doesn’t accidentally bite you.
  5. If your rabbit is allowing you to touch them, only pet them in their head, back, and behind the ears. Rabbits don’t like to be touched in their neck, stomach, and hind legs.
  6. If your rabbit is unneutered, talk to your vet about neutering.

Your rabbit is not neutered

unneutered rabbit

Rabbits that are unneutered can become aggressive and begin biting when they hit their teenage years. During this time a rabbit’s hormone is all over the place and can become extremely territorial.

That’s why it’s always a good idea to get your rabbits neutered. You can prevent a lot of unwanted behavior like:

  • Spraying
  • Biting
  • Mounting
  • Thumping
  • Nipping
  • Charging
  • Grunting

You can get your rabbit neutered when they reach their maturity which can be as early as 4 months.

Your rabbit is stressed

stressed rabbit

Stressed rabbit often occurs due to a lack of care and attention from their owners. Rabbits need a lot of space and require proper attention in order to thrive.

You can tell when your rabbit is stressed by looking at the following signs:

  • Hiding
  • Thumping
  • Tense body
  • Flattened ears
  • Running away from you
  • Lack of nose twitching
  • Aggressive behaviors

If you noticed any of this behavior it’s important that you find the cause of your rabbit’s stress. These could be:

  • Small living area
  • Not enough playtime
  • Poor diet
  • No social interaction (living alone)
  • Boredom

Does this mean your rabbit hates you?

rabbit

If you’re doing everything right and you’re not abusing your rabbit, then your rabbit doesn’t hate you. Most of the time a rabbit would only bite someone because of their instinct kicking in.

You have to understand that rabbits are prey creatures and are very cautious at all times. That’s why we, like their owners, need to be more understanding of their behavior and adjust accordingly.

How to stop your rabbit from biting you

biting rabbit

The first thing you should do is find out the reason why your rabbit is biting you. If you suspect that the reason is medical or your rabbit is sick or injured, immediately bring them to a vet.

If the problem is hormones, or your rabbit is unneutered, then consider getting your rabbit neutered to limit those unwanted behaviors.

If the problem is stress, past abuse, and neglect, then give your rabbit some time and be patient with them. Provide treats by hand to associate it with food. Just make sure that the treats is long enough so they don’t accidentally bite you.

Finally, it could also be that your rabbit is biting you by mistake because you accidentally startled them.

Summary

In order to properly correct and avoid aggressive biting behaviors on your pet rabbits, first, we have to understand the causes. This could be injuries, stress, defense mechanism, abuse/neglect, and hormones.

After knowing the cause of these behavior we can now do something about it.

For injuries and hormones, its best to consult a vetirenarian to properly plan the best course of action.

For stress, you can provide toys, treats, and give your rabbit proper living space to ease their stress.

And finally for abuse/neglect, it’s best to just be patient and give just give them all we can until their ready to trust again.

Cite this article:

Bunny Horde (November 20, 2021) Why Is My Rabbit Biting Me All Of A Sudden: 8 reasons (with proven solution). Retrieved from https://bunnyhorde.com/why-is-my-rabbit-biting-me-all-of-a-sudden/.
"Why Is My Rabbit Biting Me All Of A Sudden: 8 reasons (with proven solution)." Bunny Horde - November 20, 2021, https://bunnyhorde.com/why-is-my-rabbit-biting-me-all-of-a-sudden/

Sources and Further reading

  • Buseth, Marit Emilie., and Richard A. Saunders. Rabbit Behaviour, Health, and Care. CABI, 2014.
  • Patry, Karen, et al. The Rabbit-Raising Problem Solver: Your Questions Answered about Housing, Feeding, Behavior, Health Care, Breeding, and Kindling. Storey Publishing, 2014.
  • Basic Rabbit Care